Are You Learning Anything ?

At TWU XX, me, Mark and Jim were usually trying to come up with ways to deliver the content we needed without boring anyone to death.

As typical Gen-Y students, the new TWers from our term had a very short attention span, and would (correctly!) reject any topic that wasn’t of their interest, which made us come up with different formats in order to try to make everything interesting.

In this case, it all started when we had to deliver a presentation on a new concept and a challenge was made:

How fast can you deliver this presentation so we can go back to coding ?

As proud trainers that we were, we took the bait and stated that we could deliver a 1.5 hr session in 10 mins. It doesn’t need to be said that we didn’t do it, but from that experiment we started a new format of sessions, based on very short feedback loops.

The idea was to deliver the sessions in 10 min chunks, asking for feedback and adapting every time, in a process like this:

  1. Ask every student to raise their hand describing how confident they were in the subject we wanted to talk about. They could show any number btw 1 (not confident at all) to 5 (I should be delivering this session, not you!).
  2. Have a timeboxed 10 min presentation on the topic
  3. Have the students voting again and question them about what they weren’t understanding or doubts they still had.
  4. Do it again

We repeated that process until everyone was voting around 3 or 4.
I was quite satisfied with the result. We managed to get a lot of good feedback during the sessions, which is usually hard, and also wouldn’t have to (or couldn’t) prepare to much, since we didn’t know which direction the presentation would take.

In some cases the first 10 minutes were a complete disaster, with everyone saying that they didn’t learn anything, but since we were stopping and discussing it, we were able to change direction (sometimes by changing the presenter :P) and fix it.
In addition to that, we did finish most of the presentations that were usually done in 1.5hrs in less than 30 min, which is always good to hear :)

If you are running an informal (or even formal) session, I would definitely recommend this format. Im sure you will get surprised about what you hear!

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